Yesterday, MSNBC and CBS suspended the nationally syndicated ‘Imus in the Morning’ radio program for two weeks after host Don Imus made derogatory comments about members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Imus said that the players of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who made it all the way to the NCAA women’s championship game, were “nappy-headed hos,” while the show’s executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, called the Rutgers team “hard-core hos,” and commentator Sid Rosenberg added that “The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.”
In a joint statement on Friday, Myles Brand, the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and Richard L. McCormick, the president of Rutgers, said that Imus’s attempted humor was an assault on the human dignity of people “who have accomplished much and deserve great credit,” the New York Times reports.
The comments on last week’s program are not the first racist and sexist remarks to come out of the show, reports Media Matters for America. On the March 6 show, Executive Producer McGuirk said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) was “trying to sound black in front of a black audience” during a speech she gave in Alabama to commemorate the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march. He continued, saying that Sen. Clinton “will have cornrows and gold teeth before this fight with [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] is over.” McGuirk also referred to Clinton as a “bitch.”
Rosenberg’s comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team are reminiscent of his June 2001 remarks about tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams: “One time, a friend, he says to me, ‘Listen, one of these days you’re gonna see Venus and Serena Williams in Playboy,'” Rosenberg said, according to a November 20, 2001, Newsday article. “I said, ‘You’ve got a better shot at National Geographic.'” Rosenberg also referred to Venus Williams as an “animal.”
Imus apologized yesterday on his show and on a radio program hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton. Despite his apologies, journalists and feminist groups alike have called for the boycotting of his show. The president of the National Association of Black Journalists, Bryan Monroe, called Imus’s remarks “stunning and insulting” and said, “His apology was too little, too late. No matter how contrite, his words hurt so many so deeply that after 40 years in the radio business, it is time for him to go.”